I have been doing this work for a decade now, since I switched from academic philosophy to counselling and coaching, and have been in private practice since 2011. I see about twenty five people per week for one-on-one work. My typical clients are both male and female and in their mid-twenties to late thirties. Their problems regard relationships, career, or emotional struggles, but behind the details is a lack an adequate sense of direction or purpose in life or a need to build personal strengths. In today's post I set out how I help people. I will categorise the process as three stages: challenge, promise, and proficiency.
People come wanting a greater sense of direction and purpose in life. They want need or want a clearer vision. They want help to make things happen.
Direction is about knowing what to do with your life. Should you have children? How will that work with your career and should you preference it instead? Should your commit to your current partner? Or perhaps your challenge lies in starting a relationship or finding a career in the first place.
Or perhaps everything has come together and yet "something is missing." Which leads on to the problem of purpose.
Purpose is about meaning. You are going to age and die. You are going to suffer or struggle at times. And even in the good times pleasure and wealth are not enough. What makes life worthwhile? How do you gain a deeper sense of satisfaction? How do you become the person you want and need to be? What will give genuine meaning and satisfaction to your life?
The consequence of a lack of direction or purpose is that people feel confused, anxious, or despairing. It is a recipe for distress.
I call this part the "promise" because it is about what we can make happen. I provide no guarantees because you need to do the work. What I promise is that I provide a framework by which you can create a substantial vision for your life - or some area of your life - based on your personal strengths and values, and guidance to make that a reality. You will have to do your own walking and carry your own pack, my role is as a skilled guide. What I offer works, and if you do the work you can achieve the result.
This is about moving from confusion, depression, and anxiety to clarity, purpose, and confidence...but those are side effects. They are emotional states that follow on as consequences from real change. The change itself is what's important. This is about creating a meaningful vision and making it real. It is about becoming a stronger, better person. It is about giving direction and purpose to your life.
I have spoken elsewhere about what I do and my background. What a profession like mine needs is both specialisation and breadth. Specialisation means that I don’t work with everybody under the sun, because a jack of all trades is master of none. I have a passion for the particular clients I serve and what I help them with: people in their 20s and 30s who are seeking direction and purpose and to strengthen their better qualities. I work to become an expert in my field, using a sophisticated integration of counselling and coaching, and philosophy and positive psychology.
My way of working is determined by what I help people with. I wrote here about the journey I have been on to reach this place. And I wrote here about how I integrate different disciplines and how my work differs from other counsellors and from clinical psychology. This blog aims to give you a strong sense of what I am about. Thank you for taking the time to read this and my other posts, I hope you can see that I am passionate about this field. I have spent my adult life dedicated to this work and I consider it profoundly important. This is about life well lived.